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UC-AFT Lecturers Vote to Authorize a Strike

June 2, 2021

For the first time in over twenty years, the members of UC-AFT, the union that represents contingent teaching faculty across the University of California, have voted with an overwhelming majority of 96% to authorize a strike.

This historic vote comes after over two years of collective bargaining negotiations and more than sixteen months after UC-AFT’s previous contract expired. Lecturers’ bargaining priorities include consistent review and rehiring processes to ensure that the UC retains its best instructors, enforceable workload standards that provide UC students with the best possible education, and fair compensation that reflects lecturers’ training, experience, and contributions to the UC.

“These are common-sense proposals, many of which are already in practice at the CSUs and CA Community Colleges. Teaching University of California students should not be a gig economy job, yet thousands of phenomenal lecturers lose their jobs each year. We’re calling on the UC Office of the President to invest in excellent education at the UC.” - UC-AFT President Mia McIver

While some progress has been made at the negotiating table, UC management’s negotiators have consistently refused to address lecturers’ key priorities. They have offered no proposals regarding evaluations and rehiring processes that would afford lecturers some degree of job stability, even though most contingent teaching faculty are churned out of their jobs after their first or second year. Despite committing to no layoffs during the pandemic, UC administrators quietly and arbitrarily failed to renew the contracts of some 2,000 lecturers. On salary, they’ve denied lecturers a 3% cost-of-living adjustment that they are extending to other UC faculty and employees. “UC’s salary proposal will not keep pace with inflation and amounts to a pay cut in real terms for a group of workers earning a median annual salary of $19,067,” said UC-AFT member-organizer Shannon Garland. And UC management consistently refuses to acknowledge the enormous amount of unpaid labor that lecturers do, like student mentorship, departmental service, and other work outside the classroom.

Prior to the strike authorization vote, thousands of lecturers and allies attended open collective bargaining sessions, joined car caravans, and conducted email and postcard campaigns demanding action from UC President Drake, who has not responded to lecturers’ communications. Student, staff, and tenure-track faculty allies, too, have sent hundreds of letters to the UC Regents and consistently offered their support to lecturers throughout the contract campaign. The strike authorization vote by rank and file UC-AFT members shows a widespread conviction that the only way to combat UC administrators’ inaction and intransigence is by withholding labor.

Now, an overwhelming majority of 96% of UC-AFT lecturers have voted to authorize a strike. This vote does not mean UC-AFT will go on strike immediately, but rather that UC lecturers have placed trust in their democratically-elected colleagues on the negotiating team to call a legal, protected strike if UC management fails to adequately address the problems lecturers have laid out. “This vote is a testament to our unity and strength,” said UC-AFT member-organizer Caroline Luce, “It serves as a collective expression of our hope that there remains a possibility for progress at the negotiating table and that this collective action will encourage UC administration to accept UC-AFT’s full-package proposal put forward on May 25th.”

More information about UC-AFT’s contract campaign at

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